Arsenal wasted no time at all to take the lead in their crucial Premier League clash with Leeds United on Sunday afternoon.
The pressure was on the Gunners to keep their foot on the gas in the race for the Champions League football with Tottenham Hotspur having secured a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Liverpool.
And while Leeds at home might not have read as the most intimidating fixture on paper, Mikel Arteta will have been acutely aware that he was facing a team with plenty to fight for themselves.
Arsenal vs Leeds
The Yorkshire club are battling away to maintain their Premier League status, scrambling along with Everton and Burnley to avoid joining Watford and Norwich City in the Championship next season.
Throw in the fact that Arsenal had struggled against lower-league teams before their recent resurgence and the stage was set for a kill-or-be-killed clash between the two institutions of English football.
Nketiah scores strange goal
Nevertheless, it was the Champions League-chasing side that delivered the first blow on the day with Eddie Nketiah continuing his rich vein of form to open the scoring at Emirates Stadium.
And it came in remarkable circumstances with the Arsenal striker showing exactly the sort of pressing that Leeds are notorious for to nick the ball off Illan Meslier.
The French shot-stopper was left with egg on his face when Nketiah essentially tackled the ball into the back of the net for a head-scratching goal that you can check out down below:
LOOK AWAY, LEEDS FANS! 😭😭— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 8, 2022
A howler from Illan Meslier and it's the worst possible start for the away side! 😬
📺 Arsenal host Leeds is 𝗟𝗜𝗩𝗘 on Sky Sports! pic.twitter.com/srlzJgTk1S
It’s not every day that you see a goal like that.
A catastrophic first-half for Leeds
And it clearly punctured Leeds’ morale because what started as an individual error that can happen from time to time grew into one of the most disastrous first-halves that you could imagine.
First up, both Arsenal and Nketiah doubled their money by making it 2-0 in the opening 10 minutes, thanks in no small part to some excellent work from Gabriel Martinelli out on the left.
The Brazilian maestro managed to wiggle his way into the penalty area before picking out Nketiah, whose left-footed strike saw Meslier collecting the ball from his net in less embarrassing style.
From bad to worse… 🤯🤯— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 8, 2022
Eddie Nketiah has a second for Arsenal and Leeds
are in real trouble here! 🔴
📺 Arsenal vs Leeds is 𝗟𝗜𝗩𝗘 on Sky Sports! pic.twitter.com/oYTfr4tt6i
Ayling sent packing
Then, Leeds’ nightmarish start in north London was compounded when they were reduced to 10 men in an incident that, frankly, nobody could have any arguments about.
Luke Ayling was sent for an early bath having landed a dangerous tackle on Martinelli, only for Raphinha to then pick up a yellow card for doing his upmost to wind up the referee.
🟥 Ayling— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) May 8, 2022
Leeds have fallen apart… pic.twitter.com/HR19u5fQax
And with that, Leeds set an unfortunate Premier League record for the most cautions received by a single team in a season with Raphinha’s punishment for dissent elevating the total to 95.
If that isn’t subbing salt in the wounds opened by Nketiah’s first goal, then we don’t know what is.